Tennessee timeline: Tracing a decade of key changes in Knoxville

Dave Hart took over as Tennessee's athletic director in 2011. Critics say he has shown a dismissive attitude toward women's sports, but supporters counter that he has faced difficult decisions as the school merged its athletic departments. AP Photo/Wade Payne

A federal lawsuit was filed against Tennessee Tuesday, saying the school violated Title IX by fostering a "hostile sexual environment" because of its response to alleged sexual assaults by Vol student-athletes.

The university's latest legal issue comes a little more than month after Tennessee's athletic department settled a lawsuit with three former employees -- Jenny Moshak, Heather Mason and Collin Schlosser -- in regard to a gender discrimination complaint that originally began in 2010.

It's been a tumultuous last five years in particular for Tennessee athletics. The school's recently settled suit was an example of the protracted dispute that arose, in part, from the consolidation of the men's and women's athletic departments. But to really get the full sense of it, you must go back further than that.

The process of merging the athletic departments actually began gradually back in 2001, with the consolidation of academic support for student-athletes. Various aspects of merging would continue over the next decade, with the complete elimination of separate departments beginning in earnest in 2009.

In May 2003, Mike Hamilton was elevated to the position of men's athletic director after working 11 years at Tennessee. He replaced Doug Dickey, who retired after 18 years as AD.

Hamilton's eight-year tenure was marked by controversial -- and very expensive -- hirings and firings in men's athletics, a lengthy NCAA investigation into football and men's basketball, and significant expenditures on facility upgrades.

Hamilton's replacement, Dave Hart, took over in 2011, a year in which Tennessee dealt with firing of its popular but NCAA-troubled men's basketball coach, the announcement of a career-ending illness for its legendary women's basketball coach, a budget shortfall, and the specific personnel problems of merging the athletic departments.

Hart's critics say he has shown a dismissive attitude toward women's sports and certain female employees. His supporters counter that the merger -- and Tennessee athletics' financial problems -- required difficult decisions to be made by Hart. They contend that he has made those decisions while still fully supporting women's athletics.

What follows is a timeline of many significant events in Tennessee sports for the past decade that have impacted what is now a combined -- although perhaps still not entirely unified -- athletic department and fan base.

March 28, 2005

Bruce Pearl is hired as men's basketball coach. He becomes good friends with women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, with each coach publicly supporting the other's programs.

April 3, 2007

Tennessee beats Rutgers in the NCAA women's basketball title game, giving the Lady Vols and Summitt their seventh national championship.

June 3, 2007

Athletic director Mike Hamilton fires baseball coach Rod Delmonico, who had been at the university 18 years. He was paid $430,000 to buy out the remainder of his contract.

April 8, 2008

Tennessee beats Stanford in the NCAA women's basketball title game. It turns out to be Summitt's last national championship. It is the most recent of the Lady Vols' 18 trips to the Women's Final Four.

Nov. 2, 2008

Hamilton tells football coach Phillip Fulmer he will be relieved of his duties after 28 years at the university, 16-plus as head coach. Fulmer, who had signed a seven-year contract extension the year before, receives a $6 million buyout.

Nov. 30, 2008

Lane Kiffin is announced as Tennessee's new football coach.

Feb. 5, 2009

Summitt gets her 1,000th victory at Tennessee, beating Georgia 73-43 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

March 22, 2009

Ball State stuns Tennessee 71-55 in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the Lady Vols' first loss before the Sweet 16 in tourney history. Tennessee, which lost all five starters from its 2008 title team, finishes the season 22-11.

Jan. 12, 2010

Kiffin, after going 7-5 in the 2009 football season and losing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, announces he is leaving for Southern Cal. He was able to get out of his contract for $800,000 after staying just one year at Tennessee. The program later faces NCAA discipline for violations that occurred during Kiffin's brief tenure.

Jan. 15, 2010

Derek Dooley, son of former Georgia coach Vince Dooley, is hired as the football coach. Dooley had gone 17-20 in three previous seasons at Louisiana Tech.

February 2010:

Jenny Moshak, associate athletics director for women's sports medicine, along with strength and conditioning employees Heather Mason and Collin Schlosser, file a complaint to the UT Office of Equity and Diversity in regard to salary differences between them and employees with similar titles who work with Tennessee's men's sports.

March 28, 2010

Tennessee's men's basketball team loses by one point to Michigan in the regional final, denying the Vols a trip to what would have been their first Final Four.

April 6, 2010

The NCAA receives -- from an anonymous source -- a photograph from September 2008 of then-recruit Aaron Craft at a barbecue at Pearl's Knoxville home. That illegal recruiting visit becomes a key part of Pearl's eventual downfall at Tennessee.

Feb. 23, 2011

After a lengthy investigation, the NCAA informs Tennessee of multiple recruiting violations and failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance by the football program under Kiffin and the men's basketball program under Pearl.

March 22, 2011

Days after Hamilton publicly questions Pearl's future at Tennessee, Pearl is fired after an NCAA tournament first-round loss. Pearl still receives $948,728 as part of his dismissal agreement.

March 27, 2011

Cuonzo Martin is hired as the men's basketball coach.

March 28, 2011

The women's basketball team loses for the first time ever to Notre Dame, falling in the regional final. It starts of string of four NCAA Elite Eight losses in five years by the Lady Vols.

May 23, 2011

Hamilton fires baseball coach Todd Raleigh, who did not make the NCAA tournament in his four seasons. Raleigh got $331,657 to buy out the remainder of his contract.

June 7, 2011

Hamilton resigns as athletics director, saying, "The last several years at UT have been marked by turmoil, fractures, and the development of camps. This is not healthy, nor is it productive. I want peace for the University of Tennessee."

Hamilton, who fired five coaches during his eight years as AD, receives a severance payment of $1.33 million. Longtime women's AD Joan Cronan takes over as interim athletics director for both the men's and women's programs, who are soon to fully merge.

Aug. 24, 2011

Summitt, 59, announces that she has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia/Alzheimer's type. "There's not going to be any pity party. I plan to continue to be your coach," Summitt says. "Obviously, I realize I may have some limitations with this condition, since there will be some good days and some bad days." Cronan and Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek pledge their support for Summitt remaining as head coach.

Aug. 25, 2011

The NCAA agrees with Tennessee's self-imposed penalty of two years of probation after a 28-month investigation of the football and men's basketball programs. The NCAA imposes a three-year show-cause penalty against Pearl, which essentially keeps him out of coaching until March 2014, when he is hired by Auburn.

Sept. 5, 2011

Dave Hart, 62, is announced as Tennessee's new vice chancellor and director of the combined athletic department. He spent the three previous years as an assistant AD at his alma mater, Alabama, and 12 years before that as Florida State's AD. His contract had not been renewed at Florida State, which during his tenure had an academic scandal resulting in NCAA penalties.

Cronan moves into a role as an adviser, which she will keep until retiring in 2014. Of Hart's hiring, Cronan says, "Dave Hart is a man of integrity. Dave Hart has the ability to lead us in the correct way."

Nov. 13, 2011

Tennessee's women's basketball team opens the season with an 89-57 victory against Pepperdine. Longtime assistant Holly Warlick essentially serves as acting head coach, although Summitt is still on the bench. Warlick handles news conferences and other responsibilities with the media.

Nov. 16, 2011

The complaint filed by Moshak, Mason and Schlosser is rejected by the University of Tennessee, which said their jobs "were not similar enough to jobs within the men's department to find that they were denied equal pay for equal work and that their salaries was not determined by factors related to gender."

Yet the report also stated in regard to Jason McVeigh, director of men's sports medicine: "With no disrespect being intended to Ms. Moshak, Mr. McVeigh's position is more important to athletics because of his football-related responsibilities.

"Football overwhelmingly is the top revenue-generating sport in athletics and the sport that generates the most fan interest. If the university's football team is successful, then the entire athletics program reaps the monetary benefits. If the university's football team is unsuccessful even partly because football injuries are not being prevented, diagnosed, treated and rehabilitated successfully, then the entire athletics program suffers."

Jan. 11, 2012

Debby Jennings, a Tennessee alum who had worked in sports information at the school since 1977, tells Hart in an email she does not want to retire. Jennings later alleges that she felt she was being shut out of athletic department opportunities.

March 4, 2012

Tennessee beats LSU 70-58 in the SEC women's basketball tournament final in Nashville, Tennessee, for Summitt's 16th championship in that tourney.

March 14, 2012

Summitt meets with Hart, and is upset afterward believing he has told her that her time as coach will end after the season. Later that summer, Summitt will sign an affidavit to that effect, but then will contradict the affidavit when it's made public.

March 16, 2012

Jennings sends Hart an email saying that she thinks Summitt is being "forced out" and that it could be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Hart replies to Jennings that her email is inaccurate and doesn't warrant a response.

March 26, 2012

Tennessee falls 77-58 to eventual national champion Baylor in a regional final in Des Moines, Iowa. It will be Summitt's final game as head coach.

April 16, 2012

Tennessee announces that 17 university employees -- 15 from the athletic department (12 of them women) -- have been laid off as a result of the merger. One of the men who was let go was Schlosser. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the combined base salaries of the 15 employees was $714,751, and they were not offered severance packages. Also, Tennessee's new executive staff structure has just one woman. It is not Cronan, but Donna Thomas.

April 18, 2012

In a televised ceremony, Summitt announces she is stepping down after 38 seasons as Tennessee's head coach and will move into the role of head coach emeritus, with Warlick taking over. Summitt finishes with a record of 1,098-208, with eight NCAA titles.

May 16, 2012

The university announces that Jennings has retired. She says that she was told she had to either retire or be fired.

Aug. 27, 2012

Tennessee's athletic department acknowledges a deficit of nearly $4 million for fiscal 2011-12, and also a $200 million debt related athletic-facility construction and improvements.

Sept. 27, 2012

Jennings files an age and sex discrimination lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the university and Hart, saying she was forced to retire after working 35 years at Tennessee.

Oct. 3, 2012

An affidavit filed in conjunction with Jennings' lawsuit is made public. In it, Summitt said she didn't make the decision to step down, but was told by Hart on March 14, 2012, that she would no longer be coach when the season ended. "This was very surprising to me and very hurtful," Summitt wrote in her affidavit.

Oct. 5, 2012

Summitt issues a statement saying there was a "misunderstanding" about her affidavit, and that she didn't feel forced out by Hart and had made the decision on her own to step down. Summitt said Hart told her she had misinterpreted his comments on March 14.

Oct. 19, 2012

Moshak, Mason, and Schlosser file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, alleging discrimination and retaliation for their 2010 pay-equity complaint that was denied by the university in 2011. Moshak said she had been demoted from her previous title of associate athletics director for sports medicine and had her supervisory authority reduced.

Nov. 16, 2012

NCAA announces additional penalties dating to Kiffin's one season as head football coach.

Nov. 18, 2012

The day after a 41-18 loss to Vanderbilt, Dooley -- having gone 15-21 in three seasons (0-15 vs. Top 25 teams) -- is fired as football coach. Tennessee, in the midst of finishing a $45 million expansion project of its indoor football practice facilities, pays $5 million to buy out Dooley's contract.

Dec. 7, 2012

Butch Jones is hired with a six-year, $18.2 million deal as the Vols' new football coach. Tennessee also has to pay $1.4 million to buy out his contract from Cincinnati. A week later, the school's vice chancellor of finance tells the Knoxville News Sentinel that no academic funding or state money will be used to "bail out" the athletic department.

April 25, 2013

Mason is fired as strength and conditioning coach.

Aug. 18, 2013

Moshak retires after 24 years at Tennessee, citing an "increasingly hostile atmosphere."

Aug. 18, 2013

In an interview with AL.com, Fulmer blames Hamilton and the university's leadership for the slide of the Vols' football program, which at this point had had three consecutive losing seasons.

"We had four presidents in six years. We ended up with an athletic director that wasn't prepared for the job," Fulmer said of Hamilton. "Not a terrible guy or anything like that. He got twisted like a pretzel by the middle management of the university. When you have a great president and a great athletic director and you replace them with substandard people that have no idea, what do you expect is going to happen?

"We lost a lot of the edges that you have to have. Dave Hart's very aware of those, and he's working to change things."

April 15, 2014

Martin leaves Tennessee to take over as Cal's men's basketball coach.

April 22, 2014

Donnie Tyndall is hired as Tennessee men's basketball coach.

Oct. 2, 2014

Jennings reaches a $320,000 settlement with the university on her age and gender discrimination lawsuit. The university also pays $116,396 for attorneys' fees. In a statement, Jennings says, "My sincere desire is that my university will strive to bridge the gap in the disparity of the number of women and minorities in leadership roles [in the athletic department]."

Nov. 10, 2014

Tennessee announces that all its women's teams other than basketball will change their nickname to Volunteers and go with the "power T" logo, effective July 1, 2015, when the school switches to Nike apparel from Adidas. The women's basketball team will remain the Lady Vols and keep that logo. Opponents to the change, including multiple former Tennessee women athletes, voice disapproval. A website opposing the change is launched.

Feb. 11, 2015

A group opposed to the name/logo change solicits signatures on a petition in Nashville, the state capital. State representative Roger Kane, whose daughter was a Lady Vol track and field athlete, says he opposes the change but thinks there's nothing the legislature can do to stop it.

March 27, 2015

Tennessee fires Tyndall as men's basketball coach after it's apparent he will face NCAA penalties for violations at his previous job at Southern Miss.

March 31, 2015

Tennessee hires its third men's basketball coach in five years, bringing aboard former Texas coach Rick Barnes.

April 12, 2015

In a letter to the Knoxville News Sentinel, senior associate athletics director Donna Thomas defends the logo change for women's sports other than basketball, and says all coaches and student-athletes were allowed to express their opinions about it. She does not say if any disagreed with it. Thomas praises Hart for "making possible" the Pat Summitt Plaza and the new volleyball practice facility named after Cronan.

Thomas also addresses fans who oppose the logo change by writing as if Summitt is no longer present or able to voice her view, even though she is still employed by Tennessee: "If you know Pat, you know she would have offered her opinion strongly and vigorously, and she would have supported her university -- even if she did not agree. She would not have waged a public battle that affects recruiting."

June 25, 2015

About 60 people come to Tennessee's annual board of trustees meeting to protest the impending name/logo change for women's sports. Despite the protesters and a letter signed by 45 state legislators urging them to reconsider, the board does not address the topic.

July 1, 2015

With the switch to Nike apparel, the move away from "Lady Vols" for all sports teams, save women's basketball, is official.

Jan. 1, 2016:

Tennessee beats Northwestern 45-6 to win the Outback Bowl after finishing 8-4 in the regular season. Jones is 21-17 overall and 10-14 in the SEC in three seasons as Tennessee's football coach.

Jan. 4, 2016

Moshak, Mason and Schlosser reach a settlement with the university on the gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit they filed in 2012. Moshak receives $345,000, Mason $277,500 and Schlosser $127,500. The university will also pay for attorneys fees, resulting in a total settlement of more than $1 million.

Feb. 10, 2016

Lawyer David Randolph Smith, representing six plaintiffs who were not identified, filed a Title IX lawsuit against Tennessee and the school's director of the office of student conduct and community standards. The women say that the university has fostered an environment that is hostile or indifferent to alleged sexual assaults by student-athletes.

Recent sexual-assault complaints made against Tennessee student-athletes have involved former football players A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams. Both were indicted on aggravated rape charges last year and will be going to trial this summer.